The Historian

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The Historian

1kaelirenee
Dic 11, 2007, 8:10pm

I tried to read The Historian-story about the original Dracula, lots of time in libraries, historical mysteries...it sounds like my kind of book. It was a best seller, got good ratings, but it was boring. I made it through the first three chapters (that's my limit on books-hook me in three chapters or that's it).

So, can anyone stand up for it?

2scaifea
Dic 12, 2007, 9:23am

Kaelirenee: Let me preface this by saying that I'm ridiculously tolerant of fiction works - I'll read and like just about anything. But, I think this book is worth another try - as I recall (I read it at about this time last year and my memory is atrocious), it takes an extra chapter or two over 3 to really get in to it (so I think you just missed the hook!). In other words, it's a little slow-going at first, but then sucks you right in and becomes a wonderful read. I have to add to this, though, that the circumstances of my reading and liking it were a bit unique: I have a friend and former colleague who claims he's a descendant of the original Dracul. (seriously - he's a great guy too, not a weirdo at all). And he recommended it, so I was chuckling and thinking of him throughout the read. And, I read it during a cross-country train trip, so the setting was quite nice, since there's lots of train-tripping in the book. Okay, so maybe this isn't the best case that can be made for you rereading the book, but hopefully others will chime in and help me out here :) I truly believe it's worth another shot. Oh, and the ending is pretty fantastic too.

3littlebookworm
Dic 12, 2007, 10:47am

I really enjoyed The Historian because I love Dracula and it's about books and history, my favorite topics in life. It was a bit slow at times, but I think the content was entirely worth it. I also was curious about the mystery and even though it wasn't fast-paced, it still kept me interested and I didn't manage to guess what happened.

4Bookmarque
Dic 12, 2007, 11:28am

I can only defend what I think the author's intentions were. Her execution however, was awful. Too long, too many diversions, too much build up to a secret that was a big disappointment. I did actually enjoy reading it though, longwinded as it was. I found the story to be interesting and the history presented as well. They mystery was intriguing, but the revelation was a let down.

5AlaMich
Dic 12, 2007, 11:40am

I thought it was sort of contrived...everywhere they went, a new piece of the puzzle conveniently fell into their laps. And I agree with Bookmarque, it was too long. But I do think the author did a great job of creating an atmosphere and some interesting characters.

6HMOKeefe
Dic 12, 2007, 11:50am

I enjoyed the book thoroughly even though it did drag in a few places. The history and the places described in the book have always intrigued me...partcularly Istanbul. Although I am not much of a follower of Dracul and his minions, I think the author did a superb job of detailing the legend and mystery behind the origin of the vampyre myth which has become so much a part of the lore of literature and media in the last 30 years. It is a fun read. Stay with it!

7CarlosMcRey
Editado: Dic 12, 2007, 11:58am

It wasn't a perfect work. I thought the characters and their relationships were well crafted. I thought the scholarship was pretty interesting, though perhaps not quite Foucault's Pendulum-level. I liked the nested narratives, which helped to heighten the sense of mystery. And I actually thought there was an interesting concept there in the juxtaposing of supernatural evil (Dracula) with mundane evil (the tyrannies of the Eastern Bloc, Vlad's war crimes), though I don't think it worked quite as well as the author was intending.

I agree with Ala that it was a bit contrived, especially the whole Istanbul branch. I also think the revelations were a bit disappointing, not just the big one but little things like the "amnesia" drink. I think the biggest flaw comes from that juxtaposition I mentioned above, which ultimately made Dracula seem like a pretty minor figure and his plot a little pointlessly obtuse.

8atimco
Editado: Dic 12, 2007, 2:19pm

I just finished this book last week, and I really enjoyed it, though, as others have noted, it's not perfect. I thought Kostova's prose was simply perfect. The story did drag a little in the middle and I really, really couldn't accept a certain character's motivations for her actions, but overall the story really sucked me in. The relationships between the characters were wonderfully drawn. It was the kind of book that I carried with me wherever I went in case I should have a chance to pull it out and gulp down a few pages. I haven't been that absorbed in a book since HP (well, okay, so I only read the HP series about a month ago, LOL).

And carrying it around was a good plan, too — one of the days our network was down at work and we had nothing to do for an hour first thing in the morning. Out came my copy of The Historian :-).

I posted a full review on the book if you want to read more.

9Scratch
Mar 10, 2008, 3:51pm

#4 Agree with you across the board. If ever a book fit James's "loose, baggy monsters" quip, this was it.

10paghababian
Mar 13, 2008, 3:46pm

I picked up the book because I like vampire stories (but not necissarily Dracula stories). What kept me reading was the descriptions of the time periods and places that the characters go to - it felt a lot like a travelogue to me, but with plot.

11FicusFan
Abr 11, 2008, 6:53pm



I am reading it now for a RL book group. All I can say is ugh!. I am around page 107 and it is so slow and annoying. Nothing so far is all that awful (about the Dracula legend, the deaths are of course nasty).

I remember back in the 70s 'In Search of Dracula' was all the rage. There were books and TV programs (I think Leonard Nimoy actually did one) and news articles about Vlad the Impaler. So why all the secrecy, and the skulking around in the book on the general topic. It defies belief. Then the constant interruptions of the story with that bland child. Get on with it already.

I may not finish it. I have so many others to read.

12jjwilson61
Abr 11, 2008, 9:38pm

Leonard Nimoy did a TV Show called In Search Of... that dealt with all sorts of pseudoscientific stuff.

13WordMaven
May 15, 2010, 6:52pm

I got bored with it, too and I read a lot more than 3 chapters. However, about 2 years later, I picked up the book on CD at the library and listened to it in my truck...it was great fun! And quite a revelation to discover that a book I couldn't finish was listen-worthy while driving. I also did that with Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, which I was terribly disappointed by in print. When I got to the end of it, I was SO glad I didn't put in the time to finish reading it. I would've wanted to strangle Ms. Tartt.

14ayushgen
Sep 18, 2011, 5:26pm

If you like the dusty smell of old books , old wine , the streetside European cafes , sandwiches with hot coffee on a chilly morning , heavy woolen wear , the cold silent stone buildings , the monastries on the edge of the world , X files and the dark prince , you would love The Historian . Otherwise , you have a lot of other things to bide your time.

15WordMaven
Sep 18, 2011, 9:20pm

Ayushgen, your description sounds quite alluring. What I didn't like was the way nothing was ever resolved; it was like a wild goose chase. I have a limited amount of patience for that sort of thing.

16impatient
Ago 27, 2018, 6:32pm

The Historian is an excellent book by a first-time author. If you take the time to immerse yourself in the surroundings as the author describes them you will thoroughly enjoy this book. When the vampire is finally located there was an appropriate aura of quiet danger and evil in the air. i loved this book-- there are many mediocre vampire novels out there but this is not one of them. Take your time, sit back and enjoy this novel.

17Joe73
Editado: Nov 2, 7:10am

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was a tough read. The fact that the family is so entwined with the actual Dracula is kind of different. Kostova's writing style is not easy on the eyes. But with that being said, she can tell a story. It just seems to me she cannot relay the message. I find her writing kind of lazy. I thought the Swan Thieves was terrible.